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Bottas: Alfa Romeo F1 lack of grip "worse" than fixing balance

Valtteri Bottas says Alfa Romeo's current lack of overall Formula 1 performance is arguably harder to address than fixing a specific balance issue as he awaits a comprehensive Imola upgrade.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo F1 Team

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

For the second year running Alfa Romeo missed the mark at the start of the season. But unlike in 2022 when it had to work through various teething problems, this year Alfa's C43 challenger has been a well-balanced platform.

Instead, its problem in a tight midfield battle has been a lack of pure performance which has made scoring points a difficult prospect.

Bottas and team-mate Zhou Guanyu have mustered a combined tally of six points across the first four races, keeping Alfa eighth in the constructors' standings and falling behind on its pre-season expectations.

While Bottas appreciates that the car is much more benign and balanced than its predecessor, he said on Thursday ahead of this weekend's Miami Grand Prix that it was arguably "worse" to lack downforce than to have a clear balance issue that can yield quick lap time gain once addressed.

"It's probably worse, if I'm honest," reflected Bottas. "If we knew that we could correct this balance issue, we could gain three tenths.

"That's not the case now. Everything we can do is to work hard and a lot of that is obviously work at the factory.

"The nice thing is that it's super close. Obviously, we're not where we want to be, but at least we know that if we can find some lap time, then that can actually make decent gains in the results. And that's of course the target.

"The handling is the improved from last year, but it's lacking that pure performance compared to the others. It is better than last year's car, but the others have made bigger steps."

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

One of Alfa's weaknesses has been its lacklustre straight-line speed performance, which points to a general lack of efficiency that midfield rival McLaren is also suffering from.

"Straight-line speed hasn't really been a strength for us," the Finn explained. "I think we made a bit of a step in Baku on the straight-line speed with a different wing, but then obviously it means that you compromise the corner.

"So, having that efficiency we still need to work on. Also, we're lacking pure load as well, so we definitely need to get rid of some drag and get some downforce, that's easier said than done."

Alfa is joining most of its rivals in bringing a first upgrade push to the track around this time of the year, which will be ready for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola in two weeks' time.

The upgrade was described by the Hinwil team's head of trackside engineering Xevi Pujolar as "bringing overall performance" to add more all-round grip to the C43.

According to Bottas, the new package will give a good indication of how far his team can come this season.

"I'm hoping for a decent step in Imola with all the stuff we have coming there, so I think that's going to be an indication of how we can still achieve this year," he added. "It's a package that has a bit of everything.

"I can't really go to details, but there's a few different bits, just mainly pure performance in terms of downforce. Nothing that should affect the balance.

"There will be an improvement, but I don't think we're the only team who's planning updates at these races. Of course, we hope that it's bigger than the others."

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